Showing posts with label comics working methods. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comics working methods. Show all posts

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rebecca Clements Interview part three of four

Rebecca Clements interviewed by Chris Beach

Read part one over here.
Read part two over here.

Did living in Japan give you access to anime and manga that you wouldn't otherwise have had the opportunity to see or read in Australia?

Hahaha. Wow. Yes. It's very funny to think about the contrasts between those two times and situations. I grew up when anime was first leaking into Australia, when it was amazing if your town had 10 VHS tapes. What is manga? It's what they yell out before the anime starts. Some of my major social groups were brought together by these shared interests and I guess we were all there while it grew and grew into whatever it is today. We eventually became quite cynical from exposure to so many obsessed anime fans for such a long time.

Japan is a country obsessed by and incredibly accepting of art and comics—with a long and rich history with comics—that values and gives a platform to even the smallest indie cartoonist, and where there's almost no 'comics demographic' to speak of (which might be a bit of an exaggeration, but honestly not much). I mean, you're surrounded by manga everywhere. It's always changing, it's always there. So much of it will never make it out of the country. Thankfully, more and more of it is.

I've long since lost my interest in it, generally—I think the two of us are better off living apart—but I retain a healthy respect for the good stuff and for its spirit, like with anything.

Can you describe your working method?

Often it involves sitting at my computer and drawing on my tablet for 10 hours. Sometimes the same kind of thing only with a piece of paper in front of me. Some of my comics evolve from the scribbled notes I record in my sketchbook whenever an idea strikes me. Some of them are totally spontaneous, drawn on the spot in response to something that makes me laugh (that's the exception to the rule, though).

I probably write about 20 or more scripts or ideas for every comic that actually sees the light of day. With some, they're really detailed and I draw lots of thumbnails for each panel; with others they're just one or two vague words that are enough to trigger the whole idea sitting in my head. More and more, I have occasions where I go straight to inks with barely the roughest and loosest of pencils. Sometimes I'll still need to do 3 layers of pencils to get a particular idea right and I'll work on it for days.

The great thing that has come with experience is having a whole range of approaches, and continually having a better sense of which of them best suits the idea or whatever mood I'm in at the time.

One of the biggest factors for me in being able to make a particular comic is being able to move from one place to another to work on its various stages. Sometimes I'll work on a comic from vague idea to completion in one sitting, but usually I need to leave the house and go to a café to write and think different elements through. I'll even move from room to room to get the inking and colouring done. Sometimes I need silence, or nothing more than the kinds of outside sounds I can completely drown out, but more often than not I rely very heavily on listening to the exact right kind of music to suit the frame of mind I'm either in or want to be in. It sounds silly, but getting that right for me can make an absolute GIANT difference in how I work, or whether I CAN work.

Lately I've been very dependent on watching and listening to video longplays of old video games on YouTube while I work. They put me in a great frame of mind. I get to relive the sounds of a well-loved game while it creates the illusion that I'm being quietly social. It's like having a friend hanging out with me and playing a game, I think it's really neat. Picking the right longplay is just as important as the right music playlist! I'm one of those artists that has a lot of trouble working within rigid conditions. It's a bit crap. I struggle on by with my ways.

In a typical day roughly how much time do you devote to your comics (mulling, writing, drawing, posting)?

I don't really know. I kind of feel like I haven't stopped thinking about them for years now. I mostly don't have weekends or any real days off. I just work most of the time, even if that's just moving about with my life generally to get new ideas, or wandering about like a zombie while trying to grasp all the aspects of a comic in my head. When I'm actually sitting down and drawing (or standing—I have a standing desk too now—it's great!) it can last all of one or two days and sometimes my breaks are only when I'm sleeping or showing or eating and watching Doctor Who.

I do take a break when I need one. If I'm feeling so stuck and dead that I'm not getting anything done, I try to do one or a bunch of things to kick some life back into my brain again, be it watching a movie or going out for a walk, and every now and again I just take a bunch of spontaneous time off to go hang out with a friend and not think about work anymore.

Plus, so much of my work time has nothing to do with making comics. Often things like bookkeeping, packing and sending prints can take up most of a day. Sometimes my balanced routine helps to maintain a creative state of mind, but at other times I have so much of that stuff to do that it can drive me crazy and I begin to lament how little time I have to spend on the art I want to do.

How much of what you draw is done digitally and how much is hand drawn? What tools do you use to make your comics?

I think it's about 50/50. Sometimes I'll go through a digital phase, then I'll suddenly tire of that and want to hand draw everything. Lots of cartoonists I know are like this and I think it keeps things fresh for us. You always get excited to use a particular medium again after a while and find too that you have fresh new ways to approach it.

If I hand draw my comics, I tend to use mechanical pencils (blue or green), then ink with a Kuretake brush pen (the best!) and either colour with Copic markers or paint with watercolour.

Digital comics I do with an amazing and not-so-well-known program called Paint Tool SAI. In fact, I never made digital comics until I discovered that software. It's really perfect for me. I'll do the whole comic in that and maybe some occasional basic image manipulation in Paint Shop Pro 7, which I still love after all these years.

What for you are the advantages of digital artwork as opposed to more traditional methods?

Being able to get that line exactly right. Sometimes you'll catch yourself drawing and undoing a line 20 times to get it right. Sometimes that's ridiculous, but it's really nice to be able to produce a very crisp, tight-looking comic like that. Being able to experiment with colour easily is a big one too. Maybe the thing I value the most these days is being able to easily play with my layout. I think that has the biggest influence on me being able to sometimes get the look or timing just right.

 All images copyright 2012 Rebecca Clements. Interview copyright 2012 Chris Beach